A Short History of Toyota Hybrids

 

It has been 20 years since Toyota debuted the Prius in the United States. Toyota has been a clear leader in hybrid technology, creating somewhat of an empire of environmentally-conscious hybrid drivers. With a wide range of hybrid, plug-in and electric options now, consumers have more choices to suit their lifestyle and transportation needs. In celebration of the Prius’s 20 year anniversary, we at Steve Landers Toyota have compiled a short history of Toyota’s hybrid and electric vehicles. Take a look back with us to see just how much their hybrid lineup has grown and evolved! 

 

Toyota Prius 

 

The first Prius, model NHW10, was launched in Japan in 1997 and was the the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car. The NHW11 model was introduced in the United States in 2000, and early adopters fought to get their hands on one! With notable stars like Leonard DiCaprio driving them, it’s no wonder their popularity skyrocketed. 

 

 

By 2003, the first generation Prius was six years old and it was time for an upgrade. The NHW20, or Second Generation, was introduced at the New York International Auto Show for the 2004 US model year. The Second Generation model experienced a complete redesign from the original sedan to the signature Prius hatchback body. The lifted back redistributed space for increased rear-seat legroom and cargo storage. Additionally, the hybrid system “THS” went through a complete overhaul and was renamed “THS II." This new hybrid system increased fuel economy and power. In 2007, Toyota hit a major milestone by selling their one-millionth Prius! 

 

 

In January 2009, the third generation Prius debuted at the North American International Auto Show. The third generation got a new 1.8-liter engine that produced 134 horsepower, an increase from the 110 HP output of the 1.5-liter engine of the second generation model. Plus, this new engine was capable of delivering 51 MPG city and 48 MPG highway, and produced less CO2 emissions. Among other new features was a new aerodynamic body, intelligent park assist, dynamic radar cruise control, and three driving modes: EV, Eco and Power.  

 

 

The current Prius model launched in the North American market in January of 2016. This was the first generation of Prius to use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular platform. This platform provides a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity. For the 2019 model year, Toyota introduced an all-wheel-drive model utilizing Toyota’s E-Four System, and a redesigned exterior with sleek new headlights and taillights! 

 

Browse Our Inventory of the 2020 Toyota Prius

 

Prius Family Vehicles 

 

The Prius Family of vehicles first began with the Prius Plug-In Hybrid (PHV). The Prius PHV was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2011, followed by a limited US rollout in February 2012. The second generation Prius plug-in, the Prius Prime, was developed in parallel with the fourth generation Prius in 2015, and released to US customers in November 2016. The Prius Prime has an 8.8kWH lithium-ion battery with an EPA rated all-electric driving range of 25 miles, over twice the range of the first generation Prius PHV, and an EPA estimated fuel economy of 133 mpg when driving in all-electric (EV) mode. 

 

Browse Our Inventory of the 2020 Toyota Prius Prime

 

 The Prius V was revealed in January 2011 at the North American International Auto Show. The Prius V was derived from the third-generation Prius, but featured over 50 percent more interior cargo space. 

The Prius C was released in March 2012 in the United States. The Prius C was a downsized option of the Prius, combining the features of a Yaris-sized car with a hybrid power train.  The Prius C was ranked by the EPA as the 2012 most fuel efficient non-plug-in compact car, beating out the Prius and other Toyota hybrids. 

 

 

RAV4 EV

 

The RAV4 EV was a plug-in, all-electric model of the RAV4. The first generation was produced from 1997-2003, and only offered for sale in small quantities in 2002 in California. It was powered by a NiMH battery pack with a driving range of up to 120 miles. The second generation RAV4 EV was released in 2012 with sales limited to California only. 

 

RAV4 Hybrid 

 

The RAV4 Hybrid was released in 2015 at the New York International Auto Show. The RAV4 Hybrid was equipped with a 2.5-liter hybrid engine, and the 2020 model delivers an EPA estimated 38 MPG combined.

 

Browse Our Inventory of the RAV4 Hybrid

 

RAV4 Prime PHEV 

 

Toyota unveiled the first ever plug-in hybrid RAV4 at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2021 RAV4 Prime boasts incredible performance abilities with an output of 302 horsepower and a driving range of 39 miles on battery alone! 

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid 

 

The Toyota Camry Hybrid was unveiled at the 2006 North American International Auto Show. The 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid was equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine that produced 147 hp and 138 lb.-ft. of torque. It had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 40 MPG city and 38 MPG highway. 

 

 

The next generation of the Camry Hybrid was released in North American in August 2011. The updated Camry Hybrid received a major facelift with a lighter, sleek new body style. The lighter weight improved fuel economy to an EPA estimated 43 MPG city and 39 MPG highway. 

 

 

The current model of the Toyota Camry Hybrid was introduced in January 2017. The 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine with an output of 203 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. What’s most impressive is its outstanding fuel efficiency. The 2020 Hybrid Toyota Camry has an impressive EPA-estimated 53 MPG combined on the LE model. 

 

Browse Our Inventory of the 2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid

 

Toyota Highlander Hybrid 

 

The first Toyota Highlander Hybrid drivetrain was displayed at the North American International Auto Show in 2004, and was made available to the public in July 2005. The 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was the first seven-passenger hybrid vehicle available, with a 3.3-liter V6 hybrid engine that boasted an impressive fuel efficiency of 33 MPG city and 28 MPG highway. 

 

 

The next generation of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid was released in 2007 at the Chicago Auto Show. The Hybrid SUV had an expanded size, new features, and an all-wheel drivetrain. With an added 500 pounds of curb weight, the 2008 Toyota Highlander’s fuel efficiency decreased to 27 MPG city and 25 MPG highway. The new model was still powered by the same 3.3-liter V6 hybrid engine as the previous generation. 

 

 

The third generation Toyota Highlander Hybrid was upgraded to a 3.5-liter V6 hybrid engine for an increased output of 306 hp and 215 lb.-ft. of torque. 

The fourth and current generation of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid was released in 2019 at the New York International Auto show, with the hybrid model coming available in February 2020. The 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 Hybrid engine paired with an Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT). This engine provides an EPA estimated 30 MPG city and 28 MPG highway, which is unbelievable for a vehicle with seating for up to eight people.

 

Browse Our Inventory of the 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 

 

Toyota Avalon Hybrid

 

The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid was released for purchase in North America in December 2012. The car was produced with a revised version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive power train, similar to that of the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid. The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid had an EPA rated fuel efficiency of 40 MPG combined. 

 

The second generation and current model of the Toyota Avalon Hybrid was introduced in January 2018 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT). It has an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency rating of 44 MPG combined, and produces 118 hp and 149 lb.-ft. of torque. 

 

 

Browse Our Inventory of the 2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid 

 

The All-New 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid 

 

Toyota unveiled the first-ever Corolla Hybrid at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is equipped with a 1.8-liter hybrid engine paired with an Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT). This car has the highest-ever EPA-estimated fuel efficiency for a Corolla at 52 MPG combined. Not only is it incredibly efficient, it’s jam-packed with advanced technology and safety features. Standard on the 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid is Toyota Safety Sense, Toyota’s suite of advanced safety and driver assistance features like Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist and more. 

 

Browse Our Inventory of the 2020 Corolla Hybrid

 

We’re amazed by Toyota’s extraordinary history of hybrid technology, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds! We’re excited to see Toyota expand their hybrid lineup to include more plug-in options, and maybe even an all-electric vehicle! If you’re curious about what it’s like to drive a hybrid vehicle, come by Steve Landers Toyota on Colonel Glenn to take one for a test drive. Once you experience how fun, futuristic, and fuel-efficient a hybrid is, you can’t go back! 

 

Browse Our Inventory of Hybrid Vehicles

 
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